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Saturday, July 6, 2019

Presidential Authority and Bureaucracy: Regulatory Agencies

Circulating in Congress in the fall of 2012 was a bill that would have allowed "the White House to second-guess major rules and mandate that agencies carefully study the economic effects of new regulation. The change could, in effect, delay a number of rules for the financial industry. Those who support preserving the status quo where Wall Street regulates itself will find much to like in this legislation," said Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen, a nonprofit government watchdog group.[1] President Obama had received $1 million from Goldman Sachs as a campaign contribution in 2008. Yet of how much value to Wall Street is a mere delay in regulation? Some, surely, but not enough to make this the decisive issue here. Rather, I submit that the president's control as chief executive of the regulatory agencies and the added bureaucracy are more salient in this case study. 

The full essay is at "Presidential Authority and Bureaucracy." 

1. Ben Protess, “Lawmakers Push to Increase WhiteHouse Oversight of Financial Regulators,” The New York Times, September 10, 2012. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

President Obama's Justification for Limited Military Intervention in Libya: Driving a Wedge between the Bushes

In the early evening of March 28, 2011, President Obama addressed the American people and the world to explain his administration’s involvement in the international coalition that had been implementing a no fly zone over Libya while protecting Libyan civilians from their own ruler. He sounded much more like the first President Bush than the second in terms of foreign policy.  Similar to how the elder Bush had restrained himself from going all the way to Baghdad after he had joined an international coalition in removing the Iraqis from Kuwait, Obama said that directing American troops to forcibly remove Colonel Qaddafi from power would be a step too far, and would “splinter” the international coalition that had imposed the no fly zone and protected civilians in rebel areas of Libya. Interestingly, in taking the elder Bush’s route, Obama came out strongly against that of Bush II. Referring to the alternative of extending the U.S. mission to include regime change, Obama stated, “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq . . . regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”[1] In effect, Obama was exposing a fundamental difference between George H.W. Bush and his son by saying essentially the same thing as the elder Bush had done while excoriating the foreign invasion of his son. Yet Obama did not stop there. He added a theoretical framework that the elder Bush could well have used.



[1] Helene Cooper, “Obama Cites Limits of U.S. Role in Libya,” The New York Times, March 28, 2011.